Srie Hannaford

Photo of interpreter Srie Hannaford

Srie is originally from Indonesia. She appreciates a culturally rich, diverse and evolving society, with a family background that stems from a wide range of cultures, including Indonesian/Malay, Chinese, English, Indonesian, Singaporean, French, Dutch and Japanese.

Personal background

Srie began her career in the medical field in Indonesia. She completed three years of formal education towards becoming a doctor, before deciding medicine wasn't for her. In 1973 Srie migrated to Australia, which provided an opportunity to pursue a different path in a new country.

With her multicultural upbringing she easily integrated into Australian society. Srie noted that the pace of life in Australia was significantly faster than what she was used to, but soon adopted an ‘Australian’ way of life.

Srie found her career options in Australia limitless, and felt drawn to study architecture. She enrolled at the University of Sydney where she went on to complete two degrees in architecture. After graduating, Srie began work in the industry and found it to be a highly competitive, corporate environment.

With her medical background, Srie decided to return to her career in the medical industry, and joined what was then the NSW Health Commission. All the while, Srie kept an open mind to other potential career paths.

A career in interpreting

In 1978, Srie was approached by a lawyer who suggested considering a career in interpreting, and invited her to attend several court sessions with interpreters present. Srie felt messages were not being adequately conveyed between the client and the court, and grew frustrated as she felt this is where accurate and reliable interpreting was most needed to ensure a fair outcome.

Feeling inspired, Srie approached the governing body for interpreters at the time, and so began her interpreting career. Once the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) was established in 1981, Srie obtained formal accreditation as a level 3 professional Indonesian interpreter. She primarily undertook document translation work, but found the conversational element of interpreting work appealing. Srie now undertakes many interpreting assignments, and still completes translation work.

The next challenge

Srie has been working as an interpreter for over thirty years, and wants to develop her knowledge and understanding of the culturally diverse environment we live in. ‘You have to keep challenging and developing yourself…you not only develop professionally, but also gain great personal satisfaction.’

Srie is currently completing a Master of Crosscultural Communication at the University of Sydney, and hopes to one day apply her skills, knowledge and experience to improve services delivered to culturally and linguistically diverse people undergoing medical treatment.

Srie views her studies not only as professional development, but as a development opportunity which positively impacts various areas of her personal life. ‘Better understanding of others provides a basis to overcome personal challenges and judgements.’

‘You have to seize opportunities and maintain balance between education and communication skills. Further education and training will always be beneficial. Just get stuck into it. If you never try you have already missed out.’

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